When I first moved to Los Angeles back in 2011, I devoted hours to thrifting (these were some of my go-to shops on Melrose and Fairfax). I considered it a weekend hobby where I’d search for a hidden gem to purchase so I could resell it for a nice profit. That, mixed with constantly cleaning out my closet, I’ve learned a thing or two on using secondhand apps to my advantage. Here are 11 tips for selling (and profiting) on the resale market.
PS: While this post talks specifically about marketing clothing and accessories, here’s a list of items that may want to declutter from your space (some of which could bring you a profit).
Figure out which app is best for you.
I’ve sold all sorts of things on eBay, Poshmark, Tradesy, The RealReal, Depop, Facebook MarketPlace, Craigslist, Etsy, Ruby Lane, DeCluttr, and ThredUp. All of these resale apps have their pros and cons (aside from ThredUp where I found the app to be a complete ripoff). The two most important factors are how you use each one and what you sell on it. For example, if you have a vintage designer purse, you’re going to make more money by selling it on The RealReal than Poshmark.
Familiarize yourself with it, read the terms and conditions, and enter your payment information.
I always read the fine print so I know what to expect. Some apps will charge a listing fee, some will take a percentage of the sale, and some will do both. If you don’t learn these details beforehand, you may end up quite surprised after your first sale. I’ll even go a step further by researching the company to hear what sellers and buyers have to say. Sure, you can go directly to the website and read an impressive summary, but it’s the users’ firsthand experience that really counts.
Once you decide which app you want to list on, download it, and enter your bank/payment information. This is also a good time to learn your way around. Look to see what size photos you should upload, how to print your labels, where your reviews go, and anything else that’s relevant.
Purchase the supplies needed to sell online.
Having these essentials at your fingertips can help your sales go a lot smoother.
- Something to hang your items—a clothing rack, drying rack, or a dress form will do the trick.
- A photo-editing app—I use Lightroom to brighten up my images, and Photoshop to sometimes remove the background. If you want a simpler and free app, I recommend Snapseed.
- Measuring tape—to measure inseams, length, and heel height.
- Scale—to help you choose the best shipping depending on the weight.
- Small resealable bags—for jewelry and other small items. (I love how these are holographic.)
- Bubble wrap—if you’re mailing anything fragile.
- Mailer envelopes in a few different sizes—(I use 10×13, 12×16, and 24×24.)
- Plain white paper—for printing out labels.
- Shipping pouches—they will cover and protect the labels.
- Free boxes from USPS—in a few different sizes.
- Business cards or stationary—while certainly not an essential, it’s a pleasant touch to include a personalized thank you.
Start taking screenshots of all your purchases.
Every time I make an online purchase, I take a screenshot and save it to a folder on my desktop. I started doing this years ago because I had a virtual closet. Now, I do it in case I want to sell the item at some point. The image tells me what I paid, gives me a clear photo, and the description. Even for in store purchases, when I get home I’ll try to locate it online so I can screenshot it.
Research each item you plan on selling.
Before I list something, I search for it on the app as if I am the buyer. I check for past sales (not current listings) to see what it sold for. I also look at how other sellers marketed it as in how they describe the item, what kind of shipping they offered, and anything else that may be useful to the potential buyer.
If you want to list a designer item but you no longer have proof of authenticity, Legit Grails will authenticate it for you for a small fee. This comes in handy if you want to list on a platform like Facebook MarketPlace so you can offer local pickup.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed.
When I started selling online, I acted like it was a race to get as many listings up as I could. I spent hours looking over each item, writing up detailed descriptions, taking photos, and then editing them. By the time I was finished, I was drained (mentally and physically). This made me procrastinate on my next batch. Now, I list just a few and when I have more free time, I’ll list some more. There’s no reason to have 30 sales or auctions going on at once.
Another thing to consider is if all your auctions end at the same time and you need to ship them ASAP. If you live in a city and you need to walk to the post office, that’s not necessarily a good thing. I find it much easier to space them out and mail a few packages here and there.
Take good quality, high-resolution images.
Having good quality photos can make or break a sale. Buyers are looking to see multiple images from different angles. I try to take mine in the daytime when there’s enough natural light and I’ll eliminate any clutter from the area. Before I take pictures, I wash and steam the garment, remove scuffs from shoes, and polish jewelry. Taking these extra steps will make your listing look more appealing.
For clothing, I capture images of the front, back, and then I zoom in to photograph the print, texture, label, tag, accents (like beading or fringe), and any flaws. Once I’m finished, I use Lightroom to edit and occasionally I remove the background in Photoshop.
The first photograph I upload is usually a brand photo from a screenshot I saved, followed by mine. (If you didn’t capture an image off the web, sometimes you can find one doing a simple Google search—even for items that are 10+ years old.) I feel like this gives the buyer a better experience, almost like they’re shopping on the brand’s website.
Tip: Don’t adjust the colors since buyers want to see a realistic representation of the item. Instead, play around with the exposure, highlights, and shadows.
As you’re photographing your items, this is a good time to thoroughly look them over. If you notice a rip, missing button, scratch in the fabric, etc., make a note of it. These are details a potential buyer will want to know before making a purchase. To err on the side of caution, I over-hype the flaw to some degree. I’d rather the buyer think the item is slightly more damaged than it actually is. This way, they’re pleasantly surprised when they receive it. They’re also more apt to be a repeat customer and leave a positive review.
Market your listing by thinking like a buyer.
Before you make an online purchase, what do you want to know? For me, the most obvious things are the size, material, inseam, heel height and, of course, the brand. When I type up a listing, I include all of those details, but for certain apps like eBay, you can add in even more information. This helps if someone’s searching for something very specific. I usually start out by listing on eBay, then I copy everything and post on Poshmark. If I get a bid or sale, I’ll remove it from the other platform.
Be reasonable with the price.
On the app, check for past sales (not current listings) of the same or a similar item. This can help you decide how to price yours. If the going rate is $50, it doesn’t make sense to charge $25 or $75.
A few things to consider when pricing your item:
- Are the tags still attached?
- What is the condition? Are there any visible signs of damage?
- Is the app over-saturated with the same (or similar) listings?
- How fast do you need/want to sell it?
Decide how long you’re going to try and make a sale before you donate it.
Ask yourself, can you patiently wait for a sale, or are you in need of space or cash ASAP? If the latter is true, consider lowering the price 5% to 10% below your competitor’s. If you have all the time in the world, then list it at the current value or a little above (you can always lower it). For most of my listings, I’ll give it a month or so and if I don’t get a sale I donate it. While my listings are live, I watch for price fluctuations and raise/lower mine accordingly.
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